After the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) ruled that UFC Heavyweight contender Alistair Overeem would be eligible to reapply for licensing in nine months rather than the expected year, there was a good deal of criticism leveled their way in the MMA media. Overeem, his attorney and Dr. Hector Molina testified that Molina had injected Overeem with an anti-inflammatory concoction containing testosterone in January then given Overeem the vial and instructed him on how to inject himself.
Despite numerous gaping holes in Molina's testimony and the fact that the rules are very explicit that the fighter is solely responsible for any substance put into his body, the commissioners praised the "superlative" presentation and praised Overeem after the hearing.
Many members of the MMA media were not impressed. Yahoo! writer Kevin Iole probably took the hardest tack in his piece headlined "Alistair Overeem's PED punishment reduced by Nevada commission, which didn't take a stand":
To make a statement that ridding combat sports of performance-enhancing drugs is vital to the safety of those who compete without cheating, Nevada governor Brian Sandoval ought to fire the five members of the state's athletic commission.
The commission, described by butt-smooching promoters and managers as being "the greatest commission in the world," utterly failed to make a decision Tuesday that would have conveyed it takes the issue seriously.
The only explanation for why the commission would opt to be lenient and break its own rules is money. Overeem has become a big attraction, and having him fight in Nevada on one of the biggest shows of the year had to be attractive to the commissioners.
We'll hear from more writers including Frank Mir, Ben Fowlkes and Zach Arnold after the jump...
MMA Fighting's Ben Fowlkes wasn't quite as harsh as Iole:
...let's be very clear: accountability is what we're after. It's also what's completely missing so far. Overeem refuses to take any real responsibility for his testosterone levels, since it was all his doctor's fault. The doctor doesn't want the blame, so he claims he can't remember whether he and his patient had a conversation about the course of treatment they were about to begin. Overeem's lawyer tried to convince the NSAC that it wasn't a big deal anyway, because he was only using the mystery injection to treat an injury, which, by the way, he sustained while entertaining the masses. In other words, stop worrying about what's in the man's bloodstream and just enjoy the show.
What's really amazing is that, despite its decision to keep Overeem out of action for at least the next nine months, the NSAC seemed partially moved by this argument. Commission members actually referred to Tuesday's ridiculous buck-passing session as a "superlative" presentation, and they couldn't stop praising Overeem for being such an all-around good guy through it all. Yes, he tried to avoid yet another drug test, according to NSAC executive director Keith Kizer, but he had a good excuse. Matter of fact, he had several. And sure, he engaged the services of a doctor most of us wouldn't trust to treat an ingrown toenail, but at least he showed up at the hearing and didn't call any of the commissioners ugly names on Twitter afterward. Apparently that counts for a lot.
(Overeem) must think MMA fans are either too dumb to realize how ludicrous his defense was or too jaded to care. I hope he's wrong about that. Or maybe I'm just afraid of what it will mean for our sport if he turns out to be right.
Zach Arnold engages in some informed speculation as to the genesis of Overeem's story at yesterday's hearing:
Over the last few weeks, Dave Meltzer has reported on a number of scenarios that Alistair Overeem's camp was allegedly going to pursue in order to stay out of hot water over his failed ‘random' drug test in Nevada due to high T/E levels.
According to Dave, the first story was going to involve a plea for Testosterone Replacement Therapy. However, Overeem had given the NSAC blood test results instead of urine test results last November. When Bas Rutten alluded to Overeem getting clearance, I suspect this is what he was talking about. Plus, Overeem had passed previous urine tests from Nevada. So, according to Dave, this strategy fell apart.
The second story allegedly was going to involve a ‘Viagra defense', citing a need for Viagra & testosterone due to impotence. However, as widely reported in media circles (such as the BBC), Viagra is not recommended for those with low testosterone levels.
Which leads us to yesterday's explanation, where Overeem claimed that a doctor gave him an anti-inflammatory medication that was supposedly mixed with testosterone. You can make of this what you will.
Personally I think the NSAC should be commended to some degree for having the resourcefulness and will to subject Overeem to random testing. He's fought in plenty of jurisdictions and undergone either scheduled testing (Missouri) or only nominal testing (Texas) so Nevada ends up looking like the proverbial one-eyed man in the kingdom of the blind.
The webs of conflict of interest, hypocrisy and anti-drug hysteria are far too tangled for any commission to unravel. They put a speed bump in front of Alistair Overeem and cost him a title shot and potentially millions of dollars. Let's not go asking public servants in our completely corrupt society to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.
Lastly here's UFC contender Frank Mir talking about the situation on Fuel TV's UFC Tonight:
Everybody makes mistakes. We all do things that we're not proud of. We've all made mistakes professionally or in our personal life that are not our greatest moments in life.
To sit there and ostracise somebody and never allow them to redeem themselves, I think would be very against humanity and our overall impression that I try to carry as a person. You know, he goes out there and he follows all the stringent testing the athletic commission is probably gonna put ahead of him and all the hoops he's gonna have to jump through. As long as he does those things, then yeah, I'll see him back in there. He's a fierce competitor. We've seen what he did with Brock. I'd hate to lose him and not have him in the Octagon or as a competitor in the heavyweight division, due to something outside the Octagon.